Until recently, a pantry or butler’s pantry was associated with grand kitchens of the past. Now having a kitchen pantry is one of the latest trends in custom kitchens and home design.
When we think of a pantry, we often conjure up images of the below-stairs servant staff at Eaton Place in Upstairs Downstairs or, more recently, we think of Downton Abbey. Two historical British TV dramas showcasing the life and times of the wealthy and their servants — servants who often spent time in the basement pantry, working, gossiping and keeping stock of the household supplies.
This association — of a pantry with servants or help — once kept the idea of a storage room off the modern home renovating agenda. After all, who these days has servants apart from Royalty and the very wealthy?
All that changed, however, with the open-concept designs of more modern homes. All of a sudden, homeowners needed a space to store stuff and, suddenly, pantries were back in vogue. Open plan kitchens are fabulous for socializing and entertaining but they fall short for cooks who want some privacy when preparing a meal or want a place to hide the storehouse of food items or the mess of a well-prepared meal.
Here are the three main reasons why this kitchen design trend is back on the home improvement agenda:
1. The small kitchen appliance
Anyone who regularly uses small kitchen appliances, such as blenders, juicers, fruit processors, sandwich makers, slow cookers etc., will quickly explain how fast these great time savers take up much-needed kitchen space. Whether it’s sitting on a countertop or filling up cupboards and drawers, small kitchen appliances can really start to clutter a kitchen.
But add a pantry, particularly one with open shelves or extra countertop space (or, better still, with plenty of power sources) and suddenly the ease of those small appliances isn’t overshadowed by the potential clutter.
Even a hidden alcove turned into a butler’s pantry or an appliance garage can transform a kitchen from cluttered to tidy by providing a closed space for seldom-used appliances.
The open plan kitchen is a fantastic interior design feature which makes eating and entertaining a truly sociable event (no more being stuck in the kitchen while guests quaff your expensive wine without you). But as anyone who has prepped a big meal knows, things can get pretty messy in the kitchen. Worse, being in full view of guests when things go wrong is, quite frankly, rather embarrassing.
Having a closed space to keep messy food prep out of view from guests is a blessing. It also means that dirty dishes, pots and pans can be put out of sight to be stacked in the dishwasher later. This allows you to enjoy the company of your guests for longer without worrying about the state the kitchen is in. This is particularly useful if you plan to congregate and socialize around your kitchen island.
3. More food storage
Bulk buying your larder favourites is often difficult purely because of a lack of storage space. Where do you put that extra box of pasta or the bag of oatmeal if you cupboards of full? A pantry, not only provides more kitchen workspace for preparing food, but it can also provide space for additional food storage.
Design tips for a perfect pantry
The most important consideration when designing a pantry is how you live in your home. How do you use your kitchen space and what do you want to achieve by adding a pantry? A pantry is usually an extension of the kitchen. You’ll ideally want to use the same flooring, worktops, cabinetry and colours as your kitchen. Though, if it is separated with a door, you could ignore convention and create something completely different.
How much space you have will inform your design choices. Make a wish list and prioritize if space is at a premium. Open storage has been a trend in kitchen design of late. But that only works well with stylish and tidy kitchen spaces.
Once open shelving becomes a disorganized dumping ground it also becomes an eyesore. This isn’t a problem for the pantry. The whole point of the pantry is that it’s tucked away. Storage space in a pantry is key. Open storage is great for easy access. Lots of cleverly designed cabinetry will also keep your pantry organized.
A large double-sized butler’s sink is an absolute must in a pantry, as is a large dishwasher. This is the place to keep your heavy-duty washing zone hidden from the view of guests.
A pantry should be designed to suit your home and your lifestyle. The whole point of a pantry is to provide a useful support space so you can keep your kitchen tidy and smart.